The Western Colorado University Mountain Bike team started off the fall season with a trip to Granby, Colorado over Labor Day weekend. The team departed Gunnison Friday afternoon and arrived past sunset (after stopping for much-needed burritos in Silverthorne). The next day brought fair weather for the morning races. After coffee and a hearty breakfast fixed up by the coaches, riders were off to practice for their races. Cross country was first on Saturday, with a longer and rerouted course from 2015. Western men & women placed well throughout all categories, and were happy with the results from the first XC race of the year.
Meanwhile, gravity riders were busy lapping the downhill and super D course, getting in as many practice runs as possible before the three o’clock start. The gravity riders had to conserve some energy throughout the day though, as the super D course was “long and physically demanding,” according to senior Colt Horvat. An outburst of rain and light hail mid-afternoon left some spots on the track slick, however riders were able to adapt and keep racing strongly.
After the day’s events concluded, everyone ascended back up to camp for dinner. Talk about races and congratulations were shared while food was being prepared. More rain and thunderstorms moved in as the evening progressed, forcing people to seek shelter under tarps or back into their tents for the night. The rain drizzled the morning of day two, which left camp wet and muddy. Men’s B short track racers were on their bikes by 7am for practice, with women’s and men’s A division to follow. Racers were initially worried about trail conditions, but soon found that the rain left tacky conditions. Combined with a punchy and technical course, the short track was noted as “one of the best courses ever” by senior Peter Noon.
The sky cleared and ground dried out by noon for the downhill event. Crowds gathered along a large rock garden and two gap jumps lower on the course. Line choice was crucial for the rock garden; riders who were able to clear a technical section while avoiding trees soon after had the best results. Both men and women from Western came away with high placing’s, but are also looking forward to improve and fine-tune their skills for next weekend.
After the downhill race, camp was packed up, vans were loaded, and the team made their way back to Gunnison (after a mandatory pit stop for more burritos). Riders were both tired and excited about the first race of the season and are excited to race in Steamboat Springs next weekend. – Jeremy Wallace
More images on Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHskHZpA94